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FN wins no regions but increases vote

Far-right party strengthens position despite no victories - while Sarkozy is under attack and sacks his No2

DESPITE romping ahead in the first round votes for the regional elections the Front National has failed to win a single region in the second round.

Les Républicains won seven regions, the Parti Socialiste and allies five and a nationalist party won in Corsica.

While Marine Le Pen lost in her Nord-Pas-de-Calais-Picardie region and neice Marion Maréchal-Le Pen lost in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur the overall Front National result is a strengthening of its position as it gained 6.6million votes – up from the 6.4m in the 2012 presidential election.

Party leader Marine Le Pen is now turning her full attention to the 2017 presidential election and her party looks likely to make it into the second round.

She said: "The first round led us to believe in a three-party system. But we are well and truly in a two-party system."

Républicains candidate Xavier Bertrand won Nord-Pas-de-Calais-Picardie with 57% of the vote and Christian Estrosi in Paca by 54% as the so-called ‘front républicain saw the Socialists withdraw candidates to provide a single candidate to block the FN.

Socialist prime minister Manuel Valls thanked voters "who responded to the clear call from the left to block the far-right".

The left won Bretagne, Aquitaine-Limousin-Poitou-Charentes, Languedoc-Roussillon Midi-Pyrénées, Centre-Val de Loire and Bourgogne-Franche-Comté while the right won Alsace-Champagne-Ardenne-Lorraine, Ile-de-France, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Pays-de-la-Loire and Normandie, where its UDI ally beat the left by fewer than 5,000 votes.

Les Républicains leader Nicolas Sarkozy said the first round, in which the FN had the highest percentage of votes, had acted as a "warning".

But his policy of refusing to agree an ‘anyone but the Front National’ policy caused anger after the results with his No2, Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, attacking it and saying that without the left-wing ‘front républicain Les Républicains would not have won in Nord-Pas-de-Calais-Picardie or Paca.

She has since been sacked as No2 and drew support from Mr Sarkozy's presidential primary rival Alain Juppé among others.

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